The Texas Senate on Monday approved a bill that would significantly reduce the fee to get a license to carry a handgun.

In a 26-5 vote, the upper chamber gave final passage to Senate Bill 16, which would reduce the first-time fee for a license to carry from $140 to $40 and the annual renewal fee from $70 to $40. The bill is now headed to the House.

Only Illinois and Arkansas now have higher fees to obtain a license to carry a handgun. Reducing the fees in Texas is one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's priorities for the legislative session. 

“They’re getting these licenses from out of state because our fees are so high. So what we want to do is remove that incentive,” the bill's author, Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, said Monday.

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Reducing the fee would cost the state roughly $15 million, Nichols said. Some Democrats expressed concerns with that.

“We’ve been told we’ve got to prioritize our needs over our wants," said state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin. "I just don’t believe this is a need we should be prioritizing.”

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • A measure approved by a Senate committee would reduce the first-time fee for a license to carry a handgun from $140 to $40 and the annual renewal fee from $70 to $40.
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